Capitalism

All That Is Solid Dissolves Into Amazon…and That's a Good Thing

Capitalism isn't conservative when it comes to social and economic life. It provides exactly the sort of "bold, structural changes" socialists want but inevitably botch.

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Who is going to stand up for the utopian possibilities of free markets, private property, and individual liberty in an era when more Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have a positive view of socialism (51 percent) than capitalism (45 percent)?

Politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) yammer on about the need for "bold, structural solutions" that inevitably involve jacking up government control over more and more aspects of economic and cultural lives. Promises of higher taxes, tighter regulation of business, and policing of political speech on social media are just the beginning. On the Republican right, observes Max Gulker of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), conservatives have managed to yoke pro-market rhetoric with a backward-looking, mostly reactionary social agenda that is inimical to the individual freedom at the heart of the capitalist enterprise. "The same politicians most prominently arguing for capitalism and less government interference in markets have also been pushing social views that each successive generation finds increasingly unacceptable," he writes. Donald Trump pulled just 39 percent of votes cast by people between the ages of 18 and 44. Conservative Republicans have effectively alienated Millennials and Gen Z, says Gulker, "who incorrectly see capitalism as part of an old order to be overturned."

Ironically, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels understood that capitalism is in fact a constant source of disruption and change. In The Communist Manifesto (1848), they stated,

Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

Almost a century later, Joseph Schumpeter updated Marx and Engels in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in at least two profound ways. First, he pointed out that they were wrong in thinking that capitalism would destroy itself by "immiserating" workers. In fact, he noted, "the capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls." Say what you will about supposedly stagnant wages and the like, but we live in a country where a record-high percentage (67 percent) of low-income high-school grads go on to college, more than double the share in 1980. And where more households are moving up the income ladder than sliding down it. Around the globe, a growing majority of people live at middle-class standards or above, thanks to liberalization of trade and other market-based reforms.

Second, Schumpeter coined the term creative destruction to more fully describe the incessant changes that affect the economic life in a free market (or "bourgeois") society:

Capitalism […] is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary. […] The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumers' goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates.

[…] The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in.

The same sort of creative destruction also characterizes social and cultural life, as well, which is one of the reasons why libertarians (as opposed to conservatives) have long been champions of liberatory policies such as marriage equality (Reason has been calling for that since the early 1970s), an end to drug prohibition, increases in legal immigration, and the like. Change created by individuals endlessly discovering, expressing, and recalibrating their desires in both economic and cultural terms is the only constant. This sort of freedom doesn't lead to nihilism or iconoclasm in either the commercial or personal spheres. Rather, it allows for more options and the persistence of certain types of models and institutions that work, even as it gives more people the ability to run what John Stuart Mill called "experiments in living."

In the current political landscape, though, the main choices on display are free-market reactionaries (Republicans) and socialistic control freaks (Democrats). AIER's Gulker doesn't fault younger Americans for being confused and siding with the latter:

Suppose you're a 25-year-old who is neither expert nor ignorant in current events and economics. Those touting the virtues of capitalism are…offering a generally traditionalist worldview, not to mention specific social views you're likely to find retrograde. Without much understanding of economics, how can you see capitalism as anything but the status quo, the system currently in place where big corporations are run by old men? Some center Left candidates who seem more in step with your social views keep telling you this old order of capitalism needs to be further "checked" by government. And some Far Left politicians, with a little more conviction, tell you that markets are just another part of an old unjust order we need to leave behind.

Yet this would be ruinous, since it's precisely the creative destruction of markets that has helped generate exactly what young people like about the contemporary world—from smartphones to ride sharing to flexible workplaces to the near-infinite choice and near-instant gratification made possible by a company like Amazon. Gulker posits that it's up to libertarians to explain and sell capitalism as a decentralized, forward-looking, and responsive system.

Free markets coupled with local, voluntary institutions can bring about a society widely prosperous and caring beyond the wildest dreams of central planners like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and do so without distorting the economy or appropriating vast amounts of money from anyone….No generation is better poised to understand the power of entrepreneurial dynamism and networked bottom-up cooperation more than millennials. If that doesn't sound like a description of capitalism to you, you're not alone. Capitalism is not a hallmark of conservatism, it's the most surefire way to change the world.

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73 responses to “All That Is Solid Dissolves Into Amazon…and That's a Good Thing

  1. Another reason “kids” like socialism: they don’t have any money and wish someone would give them some. Memo to you damn hepcats: Keep your feet off my lawn and your hands off my wallet!

  2. This is the time when conservatives are going to appear to mock libertarians without any substance to their arguments, and the correct response is to ignore them, since they aren’t actually interesting in applying rational analysis.
    They know one thing for damn sure, though: Trump rules.

    1. you should have looked up the word “ironic” before that post

      1. IT’S LIKE RAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIINNNNN…..

    2. Here’s an argument: Amazon is great, until Amazon, a natural monopoly due to advantages of scale, up and decides that it’s not going to carry books with certain viewpoints.

      1. I’m not sure you you think this “natural monopoly” works.

        It’s the fucking internet ferchristsakes, Amazon might be the cheapest supplier of media but there’s ten million assholes out there with an opinion and they are screaming loudly.

        1. The first “you” should read “how”.

  3. actually capitalism is pretty darn conservative Nickie, its underlying principles stay the same..property rights, rule of law, etc…I see that black hair dye is seeping into your brain

  4. I’d like to throw in the observation that in addition to Marx being right about capitalism making stockings available for the average girl on the factory floor, capitalism also does some big things that democratic socialists don’t seem to talk about anymore–ownership of the means of production by the masses.

    It used to be that if you wanted to own the means of production, you needed to inherit the land under your feet from someone powerful–all the land in the old world was already spoken for. When we discovered a new continent, well, that made it easier to own the means of production–if you were willing to suffer the risk of starvation, disease, wars with the natives, slave revolts, etc.

    It must have been hard for Marx to imagine the workers of the world in his day coming to own the means of production by any way other than revolution. Today, if I want to own the means of production, all I have to do is go to my account, buy some shares, and me and Bezos are in this together.

    Even people on the left should be highly suspicious of self-described “democratic socialists” who tell us that we’re not smart enough to make choices for ourselves through participation in markets. If you don’t think we’re smart enough to make choices for ourselves, why should we believe that you’ll care what we have to say once you’ve taken over? Am I supposed to believe they intend to care what the people want when they don’t even respect our ability to make choices?

    For that reason, I don’t take the democratic part of “democratic socialism” any more seriously than I take the socialist part of “National Socialist”. The democratic socialists have no more intention of listening to what average people want than the National Socialists had of redistributing wealth to the unfortunate and the handicapped. From each according to their ability, to the ovens with those who need help?

    Libertarian capitalism means workers owning the means of production is only a mouse click away, and only libertarian capitalism will distribute stockings to the girls working on the factory floor–but only to whatever extent those girls want those stockings.

    1. It must have been hard for Marx to imagine the workers of the world in his day coming to own the means of production by any way other than revolution. Today, if I want to own the means of production, all I have to do is go to my account, buy some shares, and me and Bezos are in this together.

      I’d say he was incapable of imagining that.

    2. For that reason, I don’t take the democratic part of “democratic socialism” any more seriously than I take the nationalist part of “National Socialist”. The democratic socialists and the National Socialists have no more intention of listening to what average people want than they have of redistributing wealth to the unfortunate and the handicapped.

      FTFY.

      Both intend to redistribute power and wealth to themselves–and let the average people AND the unfortunate and handicapped die if they can’t tow the line.

      See : every single governmental system that has used the term ‘socialist’ in it’s name.

      Because THAT’S the commonality.

        1. You must be new here.

          Alhough, Azathoth!! is also wrong.

          The correct Hit&Run usage is “Tow the Lion!”

    3. ” if you wanted to own the means of production”

      No Marxist worthy of the name would be happy with owning a share of some company. It’s control of the means of production that is the ultimate goal. Control gives one a say in how things are run and managed.

      As for markets and choices, I don’t think the problem is we aren’t smart enough to choose the best option. Rather the problem is we lack the time and inclination to inform ourselves to the degree necessary to make the wise choice when the time comes. Take medical insurance for example. To understand what we need most out of coverage we have to be able to assess our own health, which amounts to years of medical study. And much the same happens with the insurance side, long hours poring over fine print in tedious well nigh impenetrable documents.

      1. “It’s control of the means of production that is the ultimate goal. Control gives one a say in how things are run and managed.”

        How is that different from “controlling” the means of production through your vote by way of democratic socialism? You’ve made a distinction without a difference–except that shareholders also get to vote, and they don’t need to compete with the interests of voters who aren’t associated with the company in any way.

        Have you ever been to a shareholders’ meeting? I’ve seen people put on a committee to make decisions for shareholders just by raising their hand–regardless of how many shares they own. Individual shareholders certainly seem to have a lot more power in a typical shareholders’ meeting than what I’ve heard union members do in the Teamsters.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRta5VOO8hE

        1. P.S. “Allergan shareholders vote down proposal to split chairman, CEO roles”

          —-May 1, 2019

          https://www.biopharmadive.com/news/allergan-shareholders-vote-down-proposal-to-split-chairman-ceo-roles/553851/

        2. P.P.P.S. “Citi asks shareholders to vote down 3 shareholder proposals”

          https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/trending/qNiUIYBjnc27Z0jtt4GlFw2

          Owning the means of production has never been easier for average people, and there’s no way democratic socialism would give average people more control than they have by way of owning shares in the company. In fact, it’s the democratic socialists who are the ones telling us that we’re too stupid to do things like own stocks, with Elizabeth Warren being the queen of that stupid shit.

        3. “How is that different from “controlling” the means of production through your vote by way of democratic socialism? ”

          The difference is that Marx had a vision of workers controlling the means of production, not the owners. The owners are seen as exploiters of the workers.

      2. With medical insurance you are not choosing your own health which does require years of medical study. You choose your own health risk by doing healthy things which is not at all settled science and never will be.

        There is no way for people to know if you will have appendicitis this year for example. If it should happen we all want the best surgeon and hospital.

        You are choosing which providers with those years of study and the facilities to provide it will be covered to what extent in the risk pool you are buying. You are buying expertise if you need it.

        So both supply and demand here are inelastic. The hospital wants the newest best tech. We want the same thing when the big thing happens. The insurance company needs to work this. The government gonna promise an answer if you vote for me.

        Not a box of cornflakes.

        The last institution I trust in it is the federal government.

        1. We all want the best car too. You buy the car that you can afford.

          People need to understand that medical care is not some right where every taxpayer needs to pay for your replacement knee surgery at 85 years old.

          Pay cash for the minor stuff and get cheap catastrophic health insurance for the major medical stuff. The customer and the insurance company decide what is major/minor.

          You get the medical care that you can afford or have insurance for.

        2. “You choose your own health risk”

          You don’t know your health risks, they are different for each individual. until you’ve studied a bit of medicine. The more you study, the more you know and the better the choice you will be able to make.

  5. Republicans aren’t really free marketeers either, when they’re pushing tariffs.

    1. I remain unconvinced that Trump’s trade stance is typical of the Republican party, whether you’re talking about the politicians or the registered voters.

      These anti-free trade voters are disaffected union type old time Democrats from the rust belt who came swarming into the Republican party in reaction to the social justice people taking over the leadership of the Democratic party. The same thing happened in 1980 and 1984 for the same reasons–they called them Reagan Democrats.

      “Reagan Democrats no longer saw the Democratic party as champions of their working class aspirations, but instead saw them as working primarily for the benefit of others: the very poor, feminists, the unemployed, African Americans, Latinos and other groups.”

      Throw in LGBTQI+ and environmentalists, and you might as well be talking about Trump voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in 2016.

      That demographic broke for Bill Clinton in 1992. They stayed Democrats and voted for Obama as recently as 2012. Those voters may have to go back to being Democrats again when Trump leaves office and may have to before the Democrats can retake the White House.

    2. Will someone explain to me why tariffs are more objectionable than, say, sales tax? Excise taxes?

      Thanks

      1. They cant and won’t.

        The day sales tax, excise tax, and fees are raised to get the other party to agree to lowering their sales tax, excise tax, and fees is the day that you still wont hear from these people.

        Anything that gives America a better position, they are against.

      2. Yeah, there are a number of reasons, but, before we go there, you should definitely familiarize yourself with Adam Smith. He crucified the arguments for mercantilism in 1776, and those basic arguments were never properly answered by his critics. He’s one of the few founders of a discipline whose central arguments were never debunked. Freud was largely debunked. Marx is almost entirely debunked. Even Darwin didn’t know anything about genetic drift–which may be more than half the story of evolution. Adam Smith is still going strong. His central arguments also apply against socialism, and they’re as fresh now as they were in 1776. Get to know his arguments if you plan to tell people you’re a capitalist.

        My argument? Market forces are fundamentally people making choices, and anything that interferes with that to improve the performance of one thing relative to another doesn’t only interfere with Adam Smith’s invisible hand, it’s also immoral. There is no morality (or rationality*) without agency. Violating people’s right to make choices for themselves is what I’m talking about when I talk about morality. We have different names for doing so like “rape”, “theft”, and “tariff”. Yes, the government using the threat of force to make people buy from domestic producers, sacrificing their standard of living against their will by way of tariffs, is highly immoral for that reason alone–because market forces are people making choices for themselves and interfering with that by force is immoral.

        From a utilitarian perspective, one of the secrets to wealth creation is specialization and exchange. If China has a tremendous amount of cheap labor but they aren’t so good at producing food in large quantities and cheaply with modern methods and we produce the cheapest, best quality food in the world, then rather than use expensive American labor to manufacture our own things, we’d do better to specialize in what we’re good at and trade it to China for cheap manufactured goods. That way the U.S. is better off than it would be if we used American expensive labor to manufacture our own goods, and they’re better off getting more soybeans, etc. for less than they would otherwise.

        This concept is fundamental to economic growth–like productivity gains due to technological advances (which are also driven by the pursuit of specialization).

        The point is that tariffs interfere with that essential component of trade and economic growth. If you think about it in a most basic sense, one of the reasons we have the quality of life we enjoy is because people like you no longer find it necessary to do all sorts of things they may not be very good at. They specialize in one thing and simply trade for the other things they want. If you can write software, then you don’t need to waste your time harvesting crops in the summer, building yourself a home, and making your own clothes. You just do what you’re best at, and buy housing, food, and clothing from other people who are better at doing that stuff. You end up with a lot more for specializing in what you’re good at and trading for the rest than you would if you had to do it all yourself.

        It’s no different when you’re trading across international borders. The reason people in the 17th century had such a low standard of living is largely due to the fact that they hadn’t specialized to the extent we have today. The reason your standard of living is in many ways higher than Louis XIV’s was in the 17th century is largely due to the extent to which our economy has specialized. The reason the Soviet Union failed and communism sucks is in no small part due to the way central planning gets in the way of that kind of specialization and exchange. Tariffs also get in the way of that.

        Sales taxes are better from a utility perspective because they don’t favor one group selling the same thing over another. If you put a sales tax on hammers, it doesn’t discriminate based on where the hammer was manufactured–so it lets that specialization magic happen across borders.

        There are other arguments to make about what happens to an economy that goes through the specialization process based on artificial barriers like tariffs. Eventually, market forces tear down those artificial barriers. Go ask the Soviet Union. They threw millions of people in gulags to enforce what amounts to similar market barriers. Their economy still hasn’t recovered. When your economy is open to competition from everywhere else in the world, the economy that evolves through specialization tends to be more sustainable and less susceptible to those kinds of shocks. Long term prosperity does not come from government protecting over paid and unproductive industries. Long term economic growth comes from specialization and exchange and technology driven gains in productivity. The appropriate response to anyone trying to put tariffs in the way of that is, “Fuck off, slaver!”

        1. *”All rational activity presupposes free will”.

          —-John Searle, Rationality in Action

          1. Well put Ken.

            My main comment would be that Free Trade does not account for belligerent nations secretly trying to destroy you.

            You have free trade all the way up until they use your technology against you and nuke you into oblivion.

            You would hope that people would see the danger and not trade with a belligerent power. China is an example of Communists playing kind of nice to get capital to prepare for war…that they will start.

            Selling the knife that your enemy uses to slay you, is not very wise.

            1. Right. Who doesn’t want to nuke their customers into oblivion?
              Of course free trade takes belligerence into account. You just want to complain because others account for it differently than you would, so you feel smug and superior and freedom-oriented as you put the boot in.
              You also labor under the collectivist delusion that America trades with China. That’s false in every meaningful respect. Some Americans trade with some Chinese. Each does so believing they have selected the optimal choice from amongst the really available choices. You, in your near-infinite totalitarian wisdom, somehow “know better.”

        2. Best thing I have read in a long time.

        3. My problems with absolutist free trade theory believers is that the classical theory simply doesn’t grapple with a number of very important real world variables that exist now. IMO it was spot on in its day, but conditions were fundamentally different.

          For example, the concept of unemployment literally doesn’t exist in the theory… Mainly because anybody who couldn’t do more valuable work became a subsistence farmer. The world doesn’t work like this anymore. When somebody loses a job, they now become a welfare leech on everybody else.

          Additionally trade was automatically balanced by virtue of everybody using HARD MONEY. The UK put in some of their tariffs because they were LITERALLY running out of gold and silver in the UK proper from running a deficit. This is the situation the USA was in in the 60s, and we decided to cheat and back out of our promise of convertibility to gold. Now that we’re pure fiat this allows endless trade deficits that couldn’t have happened 100 years ago. 100 years ago our wages would have been forced down in order to rebalance trade so as to not run out of cash.

          Also, I would argue free trade even in the current world 100% improves the GLOBAL average standard of living… But I don’t think it always helps any given nation in a given situation. IE the one sided trade we have with China. Once you account for the suppressed wages in the USA, the extra welfare expenses, the tax base lost, countless billions in wasted capital expenditures (capital value of thousands of abandoned factories, etc all around the country that were just left to rot), and on and on… I don’t think we’re really coming out much ahead on OUR end. China surely is though. And I suspect the world is overall. But what if you don’t care if some commie is starving to death in a mud hut in China, you’d rather have some guy in Detroit making $3 an hour more? Well, that’s a different equation than if the world is more prosperous.

          I could go on… While all the points you make are true, I don’t think they cover the full picture in the modern world for various reasons. I think TRUE free trade is pretty sweet, but I am not a fan of one sided free trade.

          1. In regards to unemployment, that problem is minimized in an economy that evolves to withstand the battering of wide open market forces. In fact, unemployment continued to grow and fall in line with the economic cycle even after China joined the WTO in 2001. Even after Trump’s tariffs, U.S. trade with China is at enormous levels compared to 2001, and when our unemployment rate has spiked, it’s been because of financial crises like that in 2008 rather than because of trade with China. At present, our unemployment rate is at 50 year lows–despite all that trade with China. Even accounting for Trump’s tariffs, the low unemployment rate and high labor participation rate since Trump has taken office are largely attributable to Trump’s tax cut and deregulation rather than because of less trade with China. 20 years of labor data–despite growing trade with China–does not support the conclusion we’d be better off without that trade.

            The solution to people leaching off the state in the form of the moral hazard of welfare is to cut welfare–not to oppose free trade.

            In regards to some of the other things you wrote, much of that seems to be a criticism of creative destruction, which is the means to sustainable economic growth. If Uber’s technology wipes out the overly expensive and low quality taxi industry, that’s bad news for taxis–but good news for the economy over the long term. I don’t see why that’s any different if the “creative destruction” we’re talking about comes from overseas.

            Wage growth is a typical source of runaway inflation, and the absence of runaway inflation in our economy since 2001 and China joining the WTO in 2001 are not merely coincidental. In April of 2019, inflation is somewhere below 2.0% and wage growth was 3.2%. Living standards have continued to improve in that sustainable way–despite all the increased trade with China since 2001.

            1. Let me start by saying I don’t really disagree… But you missed my point.

              In a different theoretical world that all makes sense. Just as free trade theory worked 100% in the world of 1850, it could work in a different world in 2019… But we don’t live in that world.

              I am all for fighting to eliminate the welfare state. I also favor getting rid of unlimited fiat currency printing either by returning to some form of commodity backed money, or other more exotic systems that have been discussed.

              But none of that applies to the world we live in right now. RIGHT NOW, with the system the way it is, I think we’ve lost more than we’ve gained by allowing ONE SIDED free trade. If the trade were both ways I think it would have been far less of a burden, or perhaps none at all.

              Fixing the other problems and keeping trade is preferable to me… But I don’t see it happening. So if we accept the status quo, that means we need to have policies that work within that framework.

              The unemployment numbers are utter BS when one looks at labor force participation rates, as Trump himself said before they were “his” fake low unemployment numbers. IIRC we have something like 15 million fewer people employed than we would compared to pre recession labor force participation rates. Wages have also been in the toilet. We replaced jobs that were the equivalent with $20-25 an hour jobs with $10 an hour garbage jobs and are pretending they’re the same thing… They’re not. We’ve added all these barista and dog walker jobs because wages and employment opportunity are so shitty that grown ass adults are willing to do that work for peanuts instead of having real jobs available to them.

              Also, as I said, the question is how are you looking at it. I have little doubt THE WORLD is richer because of the current system. But what if you don’t care about the world? What if you only care about how YOUR nation is doing? I think in the world, as it exists, with all its welfare, one sided trade deals, real world implications of losing your tax base, etc etc etc that the USA has on net lost more than we’ve gained. I don’t care if the rest of the world is better off. I want AMERICA to be better off, even if that costs the rest of the world.

              People have the false assumption that we cut costs 90% when we import foreign goods… We don’t. Much of the time the savings is 10-20% after the added shipping costs etc. There are cases where we save big, but that the exception, not the rule.

              There is no way to replace $100 in lost economic activity that was all sent overseas by saving $10-20 in costs. Not to mention all the downstream spending that $100 would have spurred in local service use etc to boot. We save that $20, but now the Chinese own $80 in USD that they use to purchase USD denominated assets. Those assets generated even more future income for them too.

              For the economy overall to be coming out ahead costs need to be something like 50% lower than making things domestically, OR there needs to be an even higher paying job for the displaced factory worker to move into. We’ve seen most people moving into jobs that pay half as well, AND we’re only seeing 20% savings on lots of stuff. The math simply doesn’t pencil out.

              In a true free market world, American wages should have plummeted, and to a point they have… But it’s all been insolated by fiat currencies, welfare, and so many other distortions it’s insane. In the world as it exists we’re often not coming out ahead. If we ever get to libertopia it will be a different story, but we ain’t there yet. That’s all I’m saying.

              So if we’re going to have welfare, perhaps it actually makes MORE economic sense to have a 15% tariff and simply have jobs, because that is actually cheaper. And if we want true free trade, maybe we need to get the order of operations right, and get all the other stuff done first BEFORE having total free trade, because if we don’t it will cost us. Basically the same argument as you can’t have mass unskilled immigration AND a welfare state. Do you get my drift?

  6. Capitalism isn’t conservative when it comes to social and economic life. It provides exactly the sort of “bold, structural changes” socialists want but inevitably botch.

    Except for the bold, structural change of eliminating capitalism.

    Just sayin’.

  7. It’s not ride sharing if I have to pay cash.

  8. Yeah, it’s all the fault of those damn conservative reactionaries making communism look good.

    This Gulker guy must be a millennial. He implies LGBT donations to the Clintons in the 90s lead to gay marriage and forgets that Justin Amash is a Social Conservative.

  9. Say what you will about supposedly stagnant wages and the like, but we live in a country where a record-high percentage (67 percent) of low-income high-school grads go on to college, more than double the share in 1980.

    Where they learn little more than freedom and capitalism are bad and the state is their savior and incur crippling debts after squandering 4-6+ years of productivity.

    1. 4 to 6 years? More like 2 before they wash out.

      Learning a trade is better for a lot of people.

  10. This is the time when conservatives are going to appear to mock libertarians without any substance to their arguments, and the correct response is to ignore them, since they aren’t actually interesting in applying rational analysis.
    They know one thing for damn sure, though: Trump rules

      1. You replied to a spambot you fucking Trumptard.

        1. Says the troll NYP

  11. in the pantheon of lightweight Nickie pieces, this might take the cake

  12. I saw that Bezos announced the development of a new lunar lander. So we will be able to get our Amazon order on the moon someday which is a very comforting thought.

    There seems to be some sort of rich guy space competition going on. I guess Marx would never have thought of that with rich guys just playing polo or fox hunting or something in his day.

  13. I recently – finally – read Kirk’s ‘Conservative Mind’.

    If there’s one thing the book crystallized for me is how eclectic and deep conservative thought runs. We’ve pigeon-holed this ideology in contemporary times.

    In fact, he made a persuasive case that it was always more naturally progressive than any other ideology. It’s just that it’s willing to, given its natural disposition to wisdom and patience, let things unfold on its own and not forced. Liberalism, in its impatience, rams through legislation to make ‘right’.

    Both ideologies may see the same end point, but one is more willing to let human nature take its course without necessarily demanding coercive government to reach it while the other eschews this long-game arguing it’s better to ‘drag’ people and nations into modernity….through coercive (and punitive) power.

    Guess which ideology has pent up ill-will?

    That being said, not sure I’m persuaded by the ‘ capitalism is not conservative’ argument.

    1. Never read it, but probably ought to some day!

      I think it is largely a definitions game. In the modern USA conservative encompasses a certain set of stuff that is quite different than the phrase used in saaay Europe 100 years ago. I don’t have much of a problem with certain strains of American conservatism. Paleo-Cons are pretty awesome.

      Anyway, IMO the biggest problem with progs is this: They see everything old as somehow automatically being bad, because the world wasn’t perfect in the past, so obviously EVERYTHING must change to make it perfect in the future.

      Problem is the world will never be perfect. And many of the things they have destroyed worked far better than what we have now. The truth is most traditional social mores were the standard the world over BECAUSE THEY WORKED. Male and female roles are largely biological in nature, and trying to force women to act like men and men to act like women simply leaves both sexes under performing in their roles… Because we’re not interchangeable.

      I fully expect this insanity will burn itself out, because it is so clearly dysfunctional and contrary to reality that it cannot sustain itself. It’s like trying to force a river to run up hill or something.

      This isn’t to say we need to go back to exactly how things were in 1895 or whatever on 100% of things, but socially and culturally we need to head more towards 1950s America than the insane track the progs have us on. 2 parent families work. Men and women doing stereotypical things is, in most cases, the most efficient. Etc. There should be room for outliers to do what they want, but not trying to FORCE people to go against their inclinations is the way to be.

      1. I think it’s a must read for history and politics buffs.

        “Paleo-Cons are pretty awesome.”

        How so? I’ve always been in awe of Buchanan’s political knowledge. I think, without hyperbole, he’s second to none. He would wipe the floor with anyone on the McLoughlin Group. Granted, it wasn’t that hard with Clift. Anyhoooo….

        “Problem is the world will never be perfect.”

        A topic explored in the book. Conservatives accept this notion whereas liberalism doesn’t. Always reaching for something to perfect – ie fix through social engineering – is a terrible if not miserable way to live.

        1. Ugh. McLaughlin. /looks up. Sorry John!

        2. Well, with the Paleo-Cons I think they’re more or less right on all their major positions. I think them with maybe a dash more libertarianism on certain subjects is about the best real world worldview one could have.

          Libertarians ALSO suffer from the belief that the world can be perfect. The fact that Paleo-Cons accept “silly” concepts like that nations exist, culture matters, some social mores are a good thing, etc are reasons they’re BETTER than libertarians, not worse like some Cosmotarians would say. Nations and cultures DO matter, social norms help keep things humming along more effectively and harmoniously, etc. Many modern libertarians want a world where that is all destroyed… Despite the fact that it will be horrible. They want to destroy the good in search of the perfect. I think Paleos accept a few notions like that where libertarians lose track of reality in search of perfection.

          Other than that they’re generally anti-war, pro small government, etc. I think a lot of them actually believe in that stuff too, not just saying it like many R politicians. I’m pretty much a really libertarian leaning Paleo-Con really.

          I agree that badgering on about how horrible the world is, and striving to reach an unachievable goal must be a really horrible way to go through life!

      2. +10 vek

  14. Libertarians need to sell the NAP and the rest will follow.

    1. The problem with the NAP is there are two many situations where one actually does benefit by ignoring it, or at least thinks one benefits by ignoring it.

      I don’t believe in the NAP in 100% of situations anyway… I’m a 98% of situations NAP believer, and think there are a few cases now and again when it’s okay to “bend the rules” so to speak. If we went with my 98% rule the world would still be 10,000% better than it is now.

      1. The NAP is important but quite a few of the LINOs that are actually Anarchists refuse to allow preemptory self-defense when there is an immediate and credible threat of violence against you.

        If the entire World followed NAP, we would all be fine. Reality is not like that.

        1. Pretty much. The fact is that many of the situations where people will say the NAP is the reason for X policy position, one can make an argument that the NAP properly applied would actually require the exact opposite policy position. Like immigration or whatever. My rights are being infringed by illegals mooching my tax dollars.

          It’s all a big ass mess when one tries to take that simple concept and put it into some of the more complex real world situations. But even in situations where the NAP is pretty clear, I am totally fine with throwing it out the window in some situations.

          If I’m in a post apocalyptic scenario, and some guy is sneaking up behind me, I’m probably just going to kill the mother fucker unprovoked… Because if you DON’T behave that way you will die eventually. There are many real world situations where there is a reasonable threat hence proactive force is not unreasonable, even though it’s technically a violation of the NAP.

  15. All That Is Solid Dissolves Into Amazon

    I was thinking that is especially true in the real Amazon, as noted in the book “The River of Doubt”, about Teddy Roosevelt’s journey down an unmapped tributary of the Amazon River after he lost against Taft. Something like 5% of the biomass of the entire forest is ants.

  16. Capitalism isn’t conservative when it comes to social and economic life. It provides exactly the sort of “bold, structural changes” socialists want but inevitably botch.

    So in the end, libertarianism amounts to exactly what I’ve always said it does – socialist ends by free market means. Libertarians and socialists are perfectly in agreement about the kind of world they want to live in, they’re just arguing about who’s going to pick up the tab.

    No thanks. EnlightenmentWorld™ sucks rocks, no matter who’s financing it. Burn it to the ground and salt the earth where it stood.

    1. There’s an important difference you’re missing, which is that socialism imposes the ends of leaders on individuals who may not share them but participation in markets allows individuals to pursue their own individual ends even if their leaders don’t share them.

      Markets allow individuals to pursue their own qualitative preferences rather than have qualitative preferences dictated to them by the government. Individuals can even choose not to participate at all in a market.

      Even in an idealized socialist democracy, individuals have fewer choices and their choices are further circumscribed by the qualitative preferences of the majority by way of their leaders. In a market, your individual qualitative preferences are represented by you.

      1. Markets allow individuals to pursue their own qualitative preferences rather than have qualitative preferences dictated to them by the government. Individuals can even choose not to participate at all in a market.

        Sure thing. Because I’m totally more free being censored by large corporations than from being censored by a large government.

        1. Yes, being free to choose between multiple platforms or start your own website is fundamentally superior to having all your choices circumscribed by the majority’s representatives in a socialist democracy.

          1. No problem! I’ll have my new website, along with the prerequisite domain name registrar, web-hosting service, payment processor, and bank to back it up built in a jiffy!

            So simple! Why didn’t I think of that? Just ask anyone who’s tried it!

            1. Are you complaining because getting things done requires effort? That’s life.

              Do you imagine these things would be easier, less expensive, or more efficient if they were done by the same people who run the Post Office or the DMV?

              1. Let me put it this way – when was the last time the DMV or the PO refused someone service because they didn’t like their views?

                Didn’t think so.

                1. Here’s a guy who couldn’t get “BUTTSEX” on his personalized license plates until he spelled it backwards.

                  https://imgur.com/4Bhz1FS

                  1. He may not have gotten the license plate he preferred, but he got a license plate perfectly suited to purpose. He wasn’t disqualified from driving for lack of a plate. Not to mention that plate would have been refused to anyone, he wasn’t being singled out for his political views.

                    I think we can safely say that there’s a pretty significant difference between being denied a vanity plate and being denied use of the public roads altogether.

                    1. Right, so, once again, there is no good reason to assume that the version of socialist democracy will give half a shit about the qualitative preferences of the minority–with the DMV being just one example. And, meanwhile, you’re also factually wrong about the DMV not censoring people.

                    2. In the first place, the function of a license plate is to provide proof of registration. Vanity plates are novelty item that in no way contributes to the functionality of the plate, nor is the DMV required to provide them at all.

                      He is still entirely free to display BUTTSEX on his car, without fear of losing his driving privileges. The DMV merely declined to sell him the plate.

                      This is a ridiculous argument. In no way was this person denied either access to the road, nor is he prohibited from flying a banner declaring his love of buttsex. That the DMV simply declined to provide the banner is a pretty weak case for censorship.

                    3. I think the ultimate point is that IF we end up with totalitarian corporate rule… Maybe it is 1% better than it actually being the government… But you’re still being ruled over by tyrants, which is fucked.

                      I kind of tend to agree.

                      Also, if you’re forced against your will to pretend to be in favor of degenerate shit (take your pick!), or having your life literally ruined by corporations/SJWs who take away your means to support yourself… Is that appreciably better than the government doing it? Because there are tons of people having this ACTUALLY happen to them right now. A year or two ago it was mostly just actual Nazis and white nationalists… Now they’re doing it to people who are a touch to the right of Tucker Carlson… Tucker will be next… Then it’ll be cucks like Marco Rubio… Then it’ll be Joe Biden!

                      That’s the trajectory. Maybe it’s better than it actually being the Feds doing it, but to call that out as ALSO being shitty is fine in my book.

    2. No thanks.

      I will take Libertarianism of tiny and limited government with as free trade as we can get.

  17. The original “conservatives” were Monarchists/Aristocrats

    The original left/right divide was Monarchists/Aristocrats vs Merchants/Artisans/Peasants.

    Sure, those “conservatives” were in favor of “private property”. Just as long as it was for the King along with his brothers, cousins and assorted cronies (the aristocracy).

    The Merchants/Artisans/Peasants thought that property should be available to anybody who was willing to expend their labor and capital on improving it and that they shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant land “rents” on lands they worked and improved just because some local baron said he “owned” them.

    1. Correction:

      The original left/rightright/left divide was Monarchists/Aristocrats vs Merchants/Artisans/Peasants.

      The Monarchists/Aristocrats were the “right-wing”.

      Of course, the church should be added to the “right-wing” in the case, though in colonial/revolutionary/early America the non-conformist churches were largely a liberalizing force.

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